KWS arrests ivory dealer with elephant tusks

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, September 25, 2012
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Kenya Wildlife Services (KWS) said on Monday that the agency is holding a suspected ivory dealer who was arrested with two pieces of raw ivory and four imitations of ivory in Nairobi.

A statement from KWS said its rangers were trailing the suspect after members of the public volunteered information leading to his arrest.

"A vehicle he was using to transport ivory has been impounded," the wildlife agency said, adding the suspect was taken to KWS headquarters for further interrogation and is due in court on Tuesday.

The suspect will be charged for being in possession of a government trophy and failing to make a report of being in its possession to authorities.

On Wednesday last week, the KWS rangers impounded 62 pieces of elephant ivory weighing 255 kg at the country's main airport in Nairobi while being smuggled out of the country.

A joint security team comprising of the Kenya Airports Police Unit, the Kenya Revenue Authority (Customs Department) and the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), seized the tusks.

According to KWS, preliminary investigation revealed the cargo was destined for Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, aboard Qatar Airways via Doha.

The KWS said the tusks were packed in two metallic boxes, some of which were cut off in pieces and declared as "avocados." The intercepted cargo was sprayed with pepper and tobacco to avoid detection by sniffer dogs.

Rampant poaching incidents have forced KWS to embrace the use of modern technologies under its force modernization program to counter the problem and other poaching-related threats.

KWS said it has introduced the Canine Unit with sniffer dogs on a 24-hour basis at the Jomo Kenyatta in Nairobi and Moi International Airport in Mombasa to detect movements of illegal ivory. The unit has since 2009 netted more than 8 tonnes of raw and worked ivory.

This, according to the wildlife agency, has effectively led to reduced smuggling of illegal trophies. Plans are at an advanced stage by KWS to also introduce sniffer dogs at the Eldoret International Airport as well as other exit and entry points.

Stiffer penalties related to wildlife crime have been incorporated under the proposed wildlife law to deter poaching- related cases and incidents in Kenya.

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